Backstage - Interviews - James Tucker

The World’s Finest recently caught up with James Tucker, Producer and Lead Character Designer for Batman: The Brave and The Bold, to look back at the first year of the fan-favorite series and to peak ahead at what’s coming up. In this exclusive interview, Tucker discusses the highs and lows of Batman: The Brave and The Bold’s first season, his favorite moments, and just what inspired him to produce the latest animated interpretation of the Caped Crusader.

Considering the entire first season, has the show stayed true to how you originally envisioned it? Has it fallen back or succeeded your expectations?

Working on this show has been a true labor of love for me. As I’ve said many times, I wanted to do the version of Batman I thought I was watching when I was a kid transfixed by the Adam West show and Filmation cartoons. I also wanted to tap into all of Batman’s vast comic book and television incarnations. So with that as my goal going in, I feel that I made the show I set out to. Of course not all episodes are golden and not every Batman fan is going to like this version. I’m gratified by the generally warm reception the show’s received.

To me, personally, watching this show is like remembering the Batman from my youth. Not the Adam West version in particular, but just how cool Batman was with his gadgets and super-hero buddies. What were your inspirations for this tone, and how do you perceive the show itself? If you could use one word to describe the first season of Batman: The Brave and The Bold, what would it be?

My main inspirations for the show, besides the ’66 show and cartoons, were the 100 Page Spectacular issues of Batman comics that were being published as I was getting into reading comics as a kid. In those comics you would get a new story featuring the current version of Batman which at the time would have been written by Denny O’ Neil or Len Wein and drawn by Irv Novick and inked by Dick Giordano. Those would be gritty and edgy (though no where near the way the books are now) and the rest of the book would be re-prints of Batman stories from the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. So all these versions of Batman became all one version to me. I liked them all and I wanted this show to incorporate all those diverse aspects into the character. As a comic book fan, I kind of consider this show the Earth-2 flip side to the Batman: The Animated Series. What word I would use to describe the show? “Outrageous!”, but of course.

Were you ever worried that the first season might become too bright or light for casual viewers to follow, especially in the light of "The Dark Knight" and the animated DTV efforts? What did you do to make sure each episode was attractive to both the casual viewer and the regular one?

When I sat with Michael Jelenic, the co-producer and story editor, the thing I stressed was that the stories should have Heart, Humor and Heroism. Michael is terrific with finding the emotional core of a story as well as being very good at comedy. I was the one with all the geeky Batman knowledge to throw into the mix. Luckily, Michael doesn’t know anything about comics, so he was game for any fan boyish bit of business I wanted to put into the stories. I wasn’t worried about making the show too bright because my mandate was not to echo what was being done in the movies and the dtvs. The movies had the dark and gritty niche covered and the dtvs were designed to cater to the current tastes of comic book fans. My show was supposed to be a throw back to a kinder gentler time and have a broader appeal to kids and their families. I just took the opportunity to throw in extra bits that older fans of the characters might remember. I’m always happy to hear someone say they watched the show with their kid(s) because I’d like to think this show serves a purpose comic books used to fulfill by exposing kids to superhero fantasy, particularly DC’s silver age history, without making it super dark or too real-world. As far as making the shows attractive to the casual viewer, well I tend to think I just took a version of Batman a lot of people fondly remember but hadn’t seen done well in a while, and put a new coat of paint on it. The only thing I wanted was to make sure of was that the show looked like a million bucks on screen. I was able to do that with the help of my amazing crew, particularly in this case, my background painters and color stylists, helmed by Bill Dunn and Craig Cuqro, respectively, who are really responsible for giving this show it’s own distinctive look as far as the superb backgrounds and excellent color palette.

What do you think are the highlights for the first season? Any favorite moments?

I enjoyed getting the first episode back from Korea and breathing a sigh of relief that it looked as good as it did. We broke a lot of rules design-wise with this show as far as having the thicker line around the characters and going as bright as we do with the colors. That was drilled into my head as being a no-no with all the earlier shows I had worked on. Probably the highlight of the first season for me was seeing the Dick Sprang inspired version of Red Hood/Joker that I used for the show receive such smooth animation. The two parter, “Deep Cover for Batman/ Game Over for Owlman” was the high point of the first (televised)season to me story-wise. My favorite moment was probably the bat fight in ‘Game Over for Owlman’. It really nailed the energy of those old batfights on the Adam West show but took it to a new level. Ben Jones did a great job with that episode as did Michael Chang with ‘Deep Cover’. Of the first 26 episodes, it’s hard for me to pick but I’d have to say ‘Mayhem of the Music Meister’ was probably the most fulfilling because it’s the one thing that really hadn’t been done to this extent in all of the DCAU shows I’ve had the privilege of working on. The standing ovation we received for that episode at Comic-con was particularly gratifying.

Looking back on the 26 episodes, how would you rate the first season? A success? Any mistakes you've learned that you hope to avoid for season two?

Overall, I’m as pleased with the first 26 as I have any show I’ve worked on. For me personally, it’s comparable to the first 26 of Justice League Unlimited as far as hits to miss ratio. I think we could have done a better job with introducing the Outsiders (though I love what we did with Wildcat, so it’s not a total loss) but we’re fixing them in second season. But as a whole, I can say there isn’t one episode I just totally hate. I hedge my bets in that regard by having the teasers not be related to the main story. So if there’s an episode with a so-so main plot, at least the teaser is enjoyable.

Any hints for the upcoming second season? We've already seen a couple of the second season episodes, but when can we expect to see "Chill of the Night?" Any further details on that episode and teasers for any other notables in season two? Will we see any more two-part adventures?

The news about “Chill of the Night” was came out right after it was recorded , so it would never have been ready for air this soon in the season, but because that was the first info people heard about second season, they assumed it was going to air as a season premiere. I’m just now seeing preview footage from overseas (which looks amazing by the way), so it won’t be finished until March 2010 I would say.

As far as hints, yes, there will be a two-parter this season. We’ll also see more Batman family members and villains. Fans can look forward to Firestorm’s premiere, The Doom Patrol, a full Captain Marvel episode, more Kamandi, and the first ever appearance in animation of The Metal Men!

The World's Finest would like to thank James Tucker for participating in this Q & A.

[ Back to Backstage ]


Batman: The Brave and the Bold and related characters and indicia are property of DC Comics and WB, 2001 - 2015.
The World's Finest and everything relating to this site - copyright, 1998 - 2015.
Proudly hosted by toonzone. Contact us.



World's Finest Series List | Batman: Brave and the Bold
Bios | Guides | Media | Backstage



Friends of World's Finest: toonzone.net | popgeeks.net